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Record Image
Dobson, William (English, b.1611, d.1646), Artist
Charles Gerard, 1st Earl of Macclesfield
Circa 1645
oil on canvas
715 x 605 mm sight size; 920 x 800 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1931 with funds from the Robert Hay Fund.
William Dobson was born in London. Little is known of his early life but by 1642 he had emerged as an important painter, described by his contemporary John Aubrey as ‘the most excellent painter England hath yet bred’. He was associated with court painter Anthony van Dyck in the exiled court of Charles I during the English Civil War, but his lively, textural style is more Italianate than van Dyck’s.
Charles Gerard, 1st Earl of Macclesfield, was a commanding officer in the Cavalier army of Charles I. He later served under Charles II and William of Orange. His lace-edged collar and the ornate drapery at his shoulder are typical of the extravagant male dress to which the Puritans, who adopted a deliberately plain and sombre style of clothing, objected so strongly. Dobson has chosen to emphasise these elaborate elements of the sitter’s dress, leaving the remainder of his clothing largely in shadow. This helps to focus our attention on Gerard’s face and makes for an expressive and evocative image of this successful and complex man.

not on view

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